(Photo credit: Altstoff Recycling Austria AG)


ARA: Austria's first circular university

Vienna, Austria

In 2021, Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (''ARA'') and Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (''JKU'') started the "Circular University" pilot project. Now, with the help of the incentive-based Digi-Cycle app, ARA wants to build on this success and further increase separate packaging collection – with the support of Coca-Cola HBC Austria.

Internal and external waste management on the university campus was optimized with the aim of promoting separate collection and thus reducing the amount of residual waste.

After an analysis by ARA of the collection infrastructure, waste volume and composition through to waste separation and disposal costs, concrete measures followed: Around 150 containers were set up at JKU for the separate collection of plastic and metal packaging, further waste paper and organic waste were also detected seperately. The collection fractions were standardized using a color coding system, the entire waste transport and cleaning logistics were optimized and digital, solar-powered smart waste containers were installed outside. The balance of separate collection after one year is impressive: 55% less residual waste, more than 130 kg of plastic and metal packaging collected per weekand thus more than 6,000 kg of packaging that can be returned to the cycle every year.

The result clearly shows that if options for separate collection are offered for on-the-go consumption, students were more likely to sort packaging by type.

''This brings us one step closer to our goal of getting every piece of packaging back for recycling.'' - Harold Hauke, Board Spokesman, ARA Altstoff Recycling Austria AG.

“At the same time, targeted awareness-raising is essential on this path, because we can only do this by standing shoulder to shoulder. With our trend-setting future project, we are presenting an overall solution that should be implemented at as many universities in the state as possible. The commitment of each and every individual is important in order to advance the circular economy and thus actively stand up for climate protection," says ARA board spokesman Harald Hauke.

The potential is great: around 275,000 people are currently studying at over 70 universities and technical colleges in Austria, and the JKU itself has around 23,000 students and 3,600 employees. “In terms of the circular economy, we have to be careful with waste as a valuable resource. As a university in particular, we bear a great deal of responsibility in educating and raising awareness. The measures only work if everyone has the same goal in mind. As a result, we were enthusiastic about the innovative project right from the start, the results of which confirm its success after just one year,” says JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas.

Circular University 2.0 thanks to ARA's digital solution and support from Coca-Cola HBC Austria

To further expand this potential, ARA uses its incentive-based app ''Digi-Cycle''. The aim is to inform students and employees about the elements of the circular economy in a playful way and to encourage further waste separation.

To do this, an incentive campaign is used, which is used in a special campaign:

"Trash to Treasure" , a hands-on recycling campaign for students supported by Coca-Cola HBC Austria and designed as an interactive scavenger hunt on the JKU campus. Students and employees of the JKU are not only made aware of the large number of available collection containers for collecting recyclable materials, but also learn what happens to the collected packaging when answering tricky recycling questions.

''We support projects like the Circular University with great commitment: educating, closing knowledge gaps and motivating others to collect are important steps for high collection rates. We all need it in the cycle - this is the only way we can get new bottles and cans from recycled material.'' - Herbert Bauer, General Manager, Coca-Cola HBC Austria

In the Coca-Cola scavenger hunt, the user has to scan the clues on the containers using the Digi Cycle app, after which different challenges have to be solved. Persistent interest is rewarded with prizes for successfully completing the challenge, such as an extensive drinks package for a shared party for the students and numerous goodie bags.

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